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Exiting the jagged road to perdition, and other tales


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Second-chance stories are usually about athletes. The guy who tore his Achilles and fought his way back to score the winning touchdown in the championship game. Or the drug test gone bad, where the home-run slugger has to come to terms with his suspension, all in the public eye. Will he be back next season or selling insurance?

As the infamous Pete Rose once said, “If someone is kind enough to give me a second chance, I won’t need a third.” Wise advice from someone whose second- chance story still needs an ending.

Well, franchising is no different, and second-chance stories abound here. Case in point: Our cover story this month is that of Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of FAT Brands, the owner of Fatburger and Buffalo’s Café—someone who made his own second chance. Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen interviewed Weiderhorn because FAT’s mini-IPO won Deal of the Year in our annual Franchise Times Dealmakers project. The awards, which celebrate the top M&A transactions in franchising, are featured in the April issue each year.

But it wasn’t easy getting there for Wiederhorn. “It was doors slammed in my face left and right,” he told Beth. Why? It’s a comeback story, but one that isn’t as smooth as stone. And that’s what makes it interesting.

As I read through the issue this month, I thought it was notable that more stories involving second chances started to bubble to the surface. There’s River Street Sweets where a divorce split the family and the business; Pet Wants Franchise Systems that came out of the gate with too many franchisees; and the Happy Tax CEO whose email signature reads “From GED to Garbageman to Graduate School.”

And then there’s Beth’s column on the founder of Liberty Tax, who is taking another turn at running the company after being removed as CEO last year. That tale, his second shot, has some jagged edges to it. We never promised you every story would be a Hallmark movie.

In an issue of second chances, perhaps it’s apropos to have our Legal Eagles feature, the listing of the top franchise attorneys (who if you are following where I am going with this, either help you out of a mess, or keep you out of one in the first place). You’ll see who made it, and the sage advice some of them give, from dealing with the #MeToo movement to the NLRB.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Publisher
Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

You’ll also want to read the rest of the articles on the other Dealmakers, such as the attorney on a winning transaction who had to close three separate deals in one day. There “were literally papers flying through the air” at the closing table, he said. “It was complicated and fun and scary all at the same time.”

As one franchisee, whose new private equity fund just invested in its first franchisor, said, “People are looking for what I would call kinder, gentler, private equity.” His deal is featured as a winner, too.

And, don’t miss Associate Editor Tom Kaiser’s Urbane Franchisor column on the rise of robots—will it be paradise or dystopia?—and how we’ll be using them in our businesses and at home a few years from now. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, say the experts.

Then there’s a cryotherapy franchise, a company that made it to the red carpet and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer—yes, all within these pages. To paraphrase a couple of our dealmakers: This issue is kinder, gentler and jagged, all at the same time.

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